Bretwaldas of Heathen of Doom – Seven Bloodied Ramparts (Caligari Records, 2015)

a1537650385_10It’s been a few months since we last heard from the increasingly prolific Caligari Records, but fear not, because the label has recently released yet another slew of great tapes, the greatest of which just might be Seven Bloodied Ramparts, a reissue of the third album from obscure UK metallers Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom. Originally seeing an extremely limited physical release back in 2010, Seven Bloodied Ramparts might be a bit of an oldie at this point, but make no mistake, this is an album that deserves to be heard well beyond the handful of diehards that picked up on it the first time around.

Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom’s sound can best be described as a mix of doom, black metal and crust. Imagine Motorhead and Amebix smoking a shitload of weed while attempting to jam on some pagan black metal tunes and you’ll have a pretty damn good idea of what’s going on here.  Indeed, the mix of garagey filth and forlorn stateliness that characterizes Seven Bloodied Ramparts is distinctly British-sounding; it feels as old and weathered as Stonehenge and yet it broods with an inner angst that’s pure punk. This is music for raising your glasses to the memory of fallen comrades in arms as much as it is for hurling spite at the onset of modernity.

What’s more, the songs are catchy as all get out, with an underlying earthiness that recalls folk without degenerating into the twee lameness that is modern folk metal; in this respect Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom have more in common with the UK neofolk tradition of bands such as Death in June and Sol Invictus than whatever mead-swilling, accordion-playing crapola the big metal labels are pimping out as folk metal these days.  The duo has a knack for crafting some of the most exquisitely sad-sounding melodies I’ve heard in the last half-decade; they’re both sweeping and ramshackle thanks to the rough-around-the-edges production scheme, a perfect vessel for the Lemmy-esque vocals to ride into battle.

All in all this is a fantastic reissue; hopefully Caligari’s ever-increasing popularity will act as a catalyst for getting more metalheads into Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom.  Considering the band hasn’t released anything in five years, perhaps it will also light a fire under the band’s collective ass to make with some new tunes, stat.  In the meantime, Seven Bloodied Ramparts beckons as the perfect jumping-on point; fans of everything from Primordial to Viking-era Bathory take heed, your new kings have arrived.


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